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May 09, 2006

The misleading GPS

The session started with three quotes:

�Time makes more converts than reason� � Thomas Paine

Even our anger can be held with a heart of kindness � Buddha

Six months of drudgery in the lab can save you one hour in the library � Yash

Jay started the check in. He said that he went to a hockey game for the first time and felt exhilarated. He said that the rush he felt stayed with him for a couple of days. He then made an observation: He could not spot an African American in the teams or in the audience for a long time and finally saw just one man. He wondered why is that.

Tom commented that hockey is an expensive game and to get the rink to practice is very difficult. He said that many people wake up around 2 or 3am to practice because that is the time they could get the rink.

Yash commented that he was surprised when he recently heard that the first African American to win a medal in the winter Olympics was only in 2002 (Shani Davis).

What would happen if all games were equally accessible to people from all social classes? One might extend that thought and ask what would happen if everyone gets an equal opportunity in education and economics as well?

On a broader note, someone quoted sociologist Ashis Nandy:

�Cricket is an Indian game accidentally invented by the British.�

Here is an article in The Hindu that elaborates on the quote.

Jags asked, �What is space? Is it part of thinking or is it beyond thought?�

Anjali said that often when she questions the intentions behind her actions, she tends to conclude that they are indeed good. Yet she wondered whether it makes sense to ask others� opinion on her intentions.

Vijay asked what is the group�s take on Kaavya Vishvanathan, the young writer who has gotten herself into trouble by plagiarizing other books. Interestingly, after the session Prasad got an email from one of his friends, Lakshmi who has a different take on the issue than the mainstream media.

Manju said that she has been thinking about what is her core identity beyond the different roles she plays as a mother, wife etc.

Kamala Mami (�dignified lady� in colloquial Tamil) shared a moving experience.

She said that the day before she woke up in the morning and stood in the front of the window as usual expecting the sun. But that day was cloudy and for a brief moment she felt a shade of sadness. When she turned away from the window, at that very instant, she saw a sudden flash of illumination on the wall � the sun had appeared, she said, as if it answered her call saying, �I am here, why do you worry?� She said that she felt such immense peace and joy for the next two hours that her whole being seemed light and was filled with love. Her glowing face was a testimony to the rest of us that she had indeed experienced something brilliant.

Yash said that his parents are visiting him from India and being with them this time, he made an observation: He could clearly see how selfless they are towards him and that they had always been that way. This made him question himself whether he has ever been as selfless towards them.

While writing this, I remember at least four great people who have expressed that they could never fully reciprocate their mother�s love � Shankaracharya, Gandhi, Vinobha Bhave and Swami Muktananda.

What would happen if all parents recognize this potential in them?

Reminds me of a quote, �Laughter is the only medicine and Love is the only cure.�

Prasad said that he had been thinking about the previous week�s theme � bringing light, love and life to the world.

He said that he has been trying to practice it wherever he was. He said that one needs to be conscious of ones own presence (life), conscious of ones larger duty to the world (love) and conscious of the divinity in others (light) in order to enliven, enlighten and inspire ones surrounding. But often, he says we lose the consciousness and go back to our auto-pilot behavior. In this mode, he said that we are constantly driven by Guilt, Pride and Shame.

Jags said that guilt is a result of the �shoulds� in our life. Each should is a rigid boundary around a desire. By creating these artificial boundaries, Jags asked, �Are we creating guilt spaces that we occupy and never seem to get out of?�

Tom said that Guilt, Pride and Shame are �social controllers�. He said that they are not natural and are acquired feelings. Society teaches everyone to acquire these feelings so that everyone knows their position in the social power structure and preserve it.

I couldn�t help but notice that Guilt, Pride and Shame resemble GPS � a tool to know your position. It is only a tool and has its limited use. But we tend to think that we are born with it and refuse to rise above its limitations.

Prasad said that instead of tightly holding on to our GPS, we can replace Guilt, a negative attachment to the past with Life by paying attention to the fullness of the present moment. We could replace Pride, a me-centric and ephemeral feeling with Love, a world-centric, long lasting feeling. We could replace Shame, the shadow region within ourselves into Light, the ever-present divinity in ourselves and others.

Posted by Ragu at May 9, 2006 04:10 PM